The game changer

Finally, there is a game that might answer your life’s greatest questions.

Nurul Amirah

Published: 29 October 2015, 12:00 AM

Two seats, a closed door, yourself, and a stranger. Occasionally, your eyes land on the stranger who looks equally as awkward. You exchange names, but the conversation dies soon after. By now, both of you have given up on starting a conversation and succumbed to the calling of your smartphones. Sounds familiar?

We have all been in that situation before, where we are just unable to sustain a conversation with strangers.

What if I told you that there is a game that will help overcome that awkwardness?

Yes, there is. It might even make you best friends.

34-year-old Nicholas Pang, who calls himself Nick, was inspired to create Smôl Tôk after he read a book by Victor Frankl titled A Search for Meaning. A misnomer of “small talk”, it is a card game created to engage players in meaningful conversations by asking each other questions.

The rules are simple: Be open-minded, open-hearted and open-handed.


Nick Pang, creator of Smôl Tôk and founder of starknicked.


The numerous questions from the holocaust survivor’s book had triggered Nick, owner of Singaporean start-up starknicked, to embark on a journey to seek meaning in life.

“I was reading the book over and over again, and it came to a point where I realise I need to find meaning in areas in my life. I need to find meaning in my work, relationships, and suffering,” shared the 34-year-old.

He recorded the list of questions and eventually decided to create a game out of it.

Suitable for players aged 18 and above, the Smôl Tôk basic deck features questions of varying difficulty. The questions can be as simple as “Do you like doing chores?” or as personal as “When did you last cry?”


The Smôl Tôk deck is divided into three categories: community, personality and intimacy.


The questions featured in Smôl Tôk delve into the core of a person’s thoughts and personality. Nick believes that this could help players to discover their motivations in life, leading them to the next step of their lives.

For instance, if you are currently unhappy about a course you are pursing in school, the game can help you identify your driving factors. You might feel uplifted after answering the questions in the game.

“Schools fill students with data and knowledge but they don’t necessarily instill the habit of good decision making or relationship building,” said Nick. Thus, he hopes that Smôl Tôk would serve as a tool for youths in that area.


Nick Pang demonstrating the game play.


While there are many offline board games which allow friends to enjoy the game together, Nick believes that they do not necessarily build friendships between players.

“If a game could address relationships specifically, it would be of value to all,” he said.

More than just a saviour from awkward silence, Nick hopes for Smôl Tôk to engage players in a meaningful game rather than just mindless fun.

Who knew that a simple card game could bring so much depth? Described as a “catalyst for personal and social change” by its creator, Smôl Tôk might just be a game changer.

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